Ask the Expert: Balancing School & Extracurricular Activities

From the YESS archives: Dr. Sara Swansen, Chief Behavioral Health Officer, shared the following in a YESS newsletter several years ago, and her advice is still pertinent for families today. 

Experts tell us that extracurricular activities can be very beneficial to children. Researchers report that children who participate in after-school activities are more engaged in their learning, perform better academically, and experience an increased sense of competence and self-esteem. In addition, studies show that participation in extracurricular activities lowers children's risk of depression, substance abuse, and behavioral problems.

While many extracurricular activities may be beneficial, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. It's easy for parents and children to become overwhelmed and stressed when involved in too many activities. Find the right balance with help from the following actions. 

1. Create a Schedule    Sit down with your children and come up with a schedule that includes time for family, homework, and extracurricular activities. Look most closely at your family priorities and make sure those come first.

2. Be Involved    Stay in contact with teachers and coaches so you know when it is time to focus more on school work and less on optional activities.

3. Stop & Reevaluate    Regularly assess the true value of your children's activities. Don't be afraid to admit you can't do it all if your child or family feels overwhelmed. If school work begins to suffer, it is time to cut back.

4. Watch for Signs of Burnout    Monitor your children for signs of stress. In younger children, this may include increased irritability or tantrums, while older kids may experience mood swings, recurrent illnesses, and increased complaints about certain activities.

If your family could benefit from community-based services offered by Dr. Sara and her team, visit the  Hope Hall page  on YESS' website or call 515-282-9377.

The 2017 Human Foosball Tournament is a sell out! 

In one short week, 32 teams will compete on life-sized foosball courts to play it forward for the kids at YESS. Miss your opportunity to participate? A few select volunteer shifts remain on Game Day; send a note to to learn how you can join the fun!

Thank You to Our Event Partners

Presenting Sponsor
Courtside Sponsors

Share the Mission, Help Change Lives

It's more important than ever to share why the work we do at YESS matters. Shelter beds are in high demand. Childhood trauma is frequent and intensifying. As a vital part of our community, friends like you have the ability to share YESS' story and help protect our community's most at-risk youth. Whether it's your team at work, a church small group, a local service club, or your closest friends, Team YESS invites you to learn how you can be the difference in kids' lives.

What we offer:
  • Free meeting space
  • Tours of the facility
  • Presentations to discuss challenges facing today's youth
  • Volunteer opportunities in shelter and around the community
To learn more, contact Kristin Huinker, Community Development Director, at or 515-282-9377.

* All visitors and volunteers must be over the age of 18
#TeamYESS Shout-Out

Thank you to the  Principal Financial Group volunteers who came and spent time with the kids at YESS for United Way of Central Iowa's Day of Action! #LiveUnitedDSM #TeamYESS

Upcoming Events
What Where When
Human Foosball League
Join one of the most unique events in town to help kids in shelter find safety and hope.
Prairie Business Park II
200 SE 37th St, Grimes
Fri., Sept. 29 12:30 - 5:30pm

918 SE 11th Street, Des Moines, IA 50309  |  515.282.9377 |